Secondary Source

Thesis: Drawing on Women: Representations of Women and Suffrage Imagery in The Masses, 1913-1917

Marie Clifford. "Drawing on Women: Representations of Women and Suffrage Imagery in The Masses, 1913-1917." MA Thesis. University of Alberta, 1991.

Era: Post-Suffrage Era | Media: Academic Paper, Illustration, Magazines

This masters thesis examines depictions of female suffragists and other women in the now-defunct socialist magazine The Masses. The following excerpt comes from the paper’s abstract:

This study examines the ways that suffrage imagery and other depictions of women were mobilized as political symbols in the graphics of The Masses, a socialist literary magazine published monthly in Greenwich Village from 1911 to 1917. The Masses, whose roster of artists included John Sloan, Stuart Davis, and Charles Allen Winter, typically invested in images of women to signify the “lyrical” left’s re-working of socialist and suffragist ideologies. Thus the magazine’s drawings of women shed light on shifts in American socialist iconography and ideologies from the high point of the movement in 1912, to its fragmentation in the mid-1910s, to its decline in 1917 following the nation’s entry into World War I. Similarly, they also provide insight into the fluctuating discourse surrounding women’s drive for the ballot.

Representations of suffragists, New Women, working-class women, as allegorical female figures were used as a point of identification and differentiation for the lyrical left from not only orthodox socialists, but other political forces as well. This project demonstrates that the role these pictures played in this process of signification is complicated and contradictory.

Interested in learning more about (alleged) connections between socialism and suffrage? Click here to read some anti-suffrage arguments rooted in opposition to socialism.


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